E-gov initiatives ready to roll

E-Government Task Force

The Bush administration's big push toward e-government is ready to be released, but the initiatives cannot succeed unless agencies overcome their resistance to sharing information and resources with others across federal, state and local governments, officials said Oct. 23.

The e-government task force led by the Office of Management and Budget is writing its final report on the 23 cross-agency, high-impact initiatives approved by the President's Management Council earlier this month and by OMB Director Mitchell Daniels Jr. on Oct. 19.

The report will be released by the end of the month, said Mark Forman, OMB's associate director for information technology and e-government. He was speaking Oct. 23 at a breakfast for the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's Bethesda, Md., chapter.

The report will include a full description of the initiatives that are to be completed in the next 18 to 24 months and provided through the FirstGov Web portal, Forman said.

"We're going to make that a portal for service delivery, not a portal for search results," Forman said.

The initiatives fall under the four categories where e-government can improve service, as defined in the President's Management Agenda: government to citizen, government to business, government to government, and internal efficiency and effectiveness.

Teams will coordinate the initiatives, with members coming from the Chief Information Officers, Chief Financial Officers, Procurement Executives, and Human Resources Management councils, Forman said.

OMB also will hire four "portfolio managers" whose sole responsibility will be to oversee each of the e-government categories, he said.

All of the initiatives involve multiple agencies through the services they provide or the information they collect. This means that federal agencies have to start thinking about the needs of other federal, state and local agencies and how one program can be expanded for others, said Tony Trenkle, chairman of the Government to Government Team.

"You have to look beyond the agency, you've got to look beyond the federal government, and you've got to put yourself in the place of the 50 states," he said.

Agencies also will have to start sharing resources and money and give up some responsibilities to play a supporting role to another agency that will be designated as the lead on each of the initiatives, said David Temoshok, co-chairman of the Internal Efficiency and Effectiveness Team.

OMB has not yet released the full list of 23 initiatives, but at the AFCEA breakfast, the task force team leaders outlined several of the programs that the task force is looking at. These include:

* A one-stop portal for businesses to interact with federal, state and local governments.

* A system to allow all levels of government to use the same geospatial information in their service applications.

* A consolidated portal to apply for loans, check application status and monitor accounts.

* A single source and curriculum to electronically provide common training for government employees, supplementing agency-specific training.

All of the initiatives are aimed at improving service to the particular customer group in that category, but they can also help save the government money. For example, the consolidation training programs could save the government more than $500 million that agencies spend on redundant licensing and contracts, Temoshok said.

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